Walk A Mile In Their Shoes-Before Complaining.

 On Jan. 28, 2017 I attended “Coffee with a Cop” and the focus was on the young children that attended with their parents.The event was held on a Saturday when children had the day off from school and attendance was high. There was face painting, visits with the police dog, fingerprinting the young for possible future identification, eating ice cream, and kids from very young to very old atop a motorcycle. Everywhere you looked police were interacting with children, answering their questions, and handing out badges. You could feel the energy flowing with everyone smiling and laughing. It was a true, feel good educational morning.
Later that night I was scheduled for a ride-a-long with a cop. I asked for, and received the north end of the city.

It started with roll call and officers were told to be on the lookout for a man who had a warrant issued for his arrest, and was known to frequent the north end of the city.
After roll call I was introduced to Officer Chris Malta who I was assigned to ride with.
Chris has been with the police department for 10 years, has worked in narcotics and he also assist in training new recruits. Chris told me he loved being a cop, and has a strong interest working with juveniles.
Chris’s first instructions to me was to stay in the cruiser, keep my seat belt buckled, unless he summoned me out. He insured me if a foot chase was necessary he would not leave me alone to pursue a suspect. His job that night was to keep me safe, assist officers where needed, and be on the lookout for the man that had an arrest warrant.

Within 30 minutes of my ride-a-long on the corner of 13th and Sapodilla the cruiser abruptly came to a stop, and before I could ask a question Chris jumped from the car and started talking to a man who was leaning into another car talking to a woman. The unknown woman sped off, and barely missed hitting Chris.

Another cruiser appeared driven by Officer Daniel Fuchsman, two years with the force to assist Chris.
The suspect was moved to the sidewalk and questioned by officers. Next thing I see the man is placed in handcuffed and searched. From his pockets the officers removed 15-20 bags which I was told was marijuana, and he was placed in the backseat of the cruiser.
A scale was placed on the hood of the car, the drugs were weighed, and there turned out to be less than 20 grams which Chris explained represents a misdemeanor.
Chris was familiar with the suspect, and mentioned he had multiple arrest for drug possession and distribution.
Now I must mention both cop and suspect were respectful of one another, both were soft spoken, and it appeared the suspect knew Chris was doing his job, and he was unlucky enough to get caught with drugs on this particular night.

The man was being arrested but not booked into jail, instead would be issued a court summons to appear.
While Chris was finishing the paperwork, a woman appeared and questioned why her son was in handcuffs. Obviously a call was made to her informing her that her son was in police custody. Chris recognized the woman and explained her son was arrested for possession of drugs, was not going to jail but being issued a court summons. Her reaction? “This wasn’t worth getting out of bed for”

The first call over the radio was for a women who complained about domestic violence and wanted her live in boyfriend removed from her apartment. Chris and Daniel both responded to the call. After a few minutes Chris motioned for me to join them.
Apparently the boyfriend physically abused the woman, but left before the police arrived. I learned there were children in the apartment to witness the incident.
Chris took pictures of the woman’s face and hands, and advised the woman to call police immediately if he returned.

The second call was Loud Noise Disturbance. Blocks away you could hear the music and a man singing loud enough that you were aware he was using a megaphone.
Chris advised him to turn down the music and stop using the megaphone. The man protested, loudly, always answering questions through the megaphone.
Chris told the man he didn’t want to arrest him, but would if he didn’t stop disturbing his neighbors. The music was turned down and the megaphone put away.

The third call was from a man who wanted his wife arrested for stealing his wallet and cell phone and she refused to return the items.
Chris responded to the call and we saw 2 men sitting in lawn chair’s on the sidewalk. Chris asked if either of them called the police, and the older man responded he had.
After our arrival we were joined by Daniel.
Chris asked what the problem was, and the man was adamant they arrest his wife for stealing his property.
A woman appeared on an upstairs porch asking what the problem was and it turns out she was his wife. Chris said he would be with her in a minute and tried to continue the conversation with her husband, while the wife continued asking what the problem was.
Chris went to speak to the wife while the husband sat quietly and waited. After a while the man’s front pocket lit up, he removed a cell phone and had a quick conversation.

When Chris returned he handed the man a wallet and was asked if they were going to arrest his wife, and was told no.
He became extremely belligerent, loud, jumped from the chair, waving his arms, while both officers backed up, and walked away yelling and demanding to see their watch commander. The man sat back down while both officers attempted to talk and keep him calm . He again demanded to talk with the watch commander, and Chris assured him he was on the way. The man jumped up again, and raising his hands over his head, started yelling “hands-up, don’t shoot” and I’m thinking what the hell?
Neither officer made a move, threatening or otherwise, and both officers were extremely courteous, patient and professional.
What I witnessed was a resident showing total disrespect for a couple of cops doing their job. My opinion was the man was out of control, and “baiting” the police, who stood and waited for the watch commander.
Outcome: Watch Commander arrived, listened to what the man had to say, and repeated what was previously reported, the wife would not be arrested. Police reward: More verbal abuse.
In the course of a few hours I saw a cop nearly run over, a resident refusing to turn down the music until he was told he could be arrested,and another resident verbally abusing cops for refusing to make an arrest.

This night I met a third officer William Nealy, who’s passionate about children and youth violence. Officer Nealy has won awards and letters of praise for his work in this area.
A story will be coming soon on what the WPB Police Dept; and Officer Nealy are doing to attempt to help juveniles get back on track.
A special Thank You to Officer Donawa who assisted me in setting the appointment for my ride along, and Chris and Daniel for keeping me and the city safe.

God bless and watch over them all.